When is it Time to Turn to Qualitative Member Research?

Smooth The Path

When surveys stop working but you still need to learn more about member’s challenges, problems, opinion, needs, wants, and goals. You analyzed member data and conducted surveys, here’s what is next. Helping members answer the questions that matter most.

Using member research

Optimist Consulting

Last week 30 membership professionals gathered to hear about member research and what it can do for an organisation. The first presentation, from Seb Elsworth at ACEVO (where I used to work), the charity CEO membership body, who focused on using research to inform the strategic planning process. Then Amanda Rosewarne from Kingston Business School talked about her project collecting CPD research amongst employers and professional bodies.

The Marketing of Marketing is not Telling Us The Whole Story About Member Research


And we focus far more on data and surveys than we do on qualitative market research. Technology promises to give us unprecedented access to our members’ hearts and minds but does it really deliver? We may start to repel members instead of attracting them.

Why Just One Kind of Member Research Isn’t Enough

Associations Now

By pursuing both quantitative data and qualitative input from its members, the Construction Financial Management Association discovered a gap in its member value proposition—and how to fix it. For associations looking to better attract and engage members, the answer is better data.

Don’t Ask for Feedback from Members Who Are Too New

Smooth The Path

Should we look outside the association to talk to prospective young members? The post Don’t Ask for Feedback from Members Who Are Too New appeared first on Smooth The Path. Related: Data and association decision-making. Beware of one question surveys for associations.

Members Give False Positive Responses Because of the Sunny Future Bias

Smooth The Path

Have you ever asked members if they were going to renew, they said yes, but then they didn’t? Have you ever asked members if they would use or buy a new offering, they said yes, but then they didn’t? Helping members answer the questions that matter most.

Before You Go To Your Go-To Member Insight Methodology

Smooth The Path

Match your business goals, your project’s goals, your members’ goals with the right member research methodology. Why no member survey may be better than one member survey. Consider what the methodology is best at doing.

Learn About Members’ Why

Smooth The Path

This is great advice but it is awfully hard to do when we don’t know our members’ why. For every action (or inaction) members (and non-members) take there is a why. As established organizations, knowing our member’s why helps us develop and communicate our why.

Slow Data vs. Fast Data

Smooth The Path

Slow data is the data we accumulate after talking to members at event after event after event, by job shadowing or in member phone interviews. When you have seemingly unanswerable questions about members it is slow data that holds the answer. Related posts: Please ask members.

A Cheaper, Faster Way to Conduct Your Member Listening Tour

Smooth The Path

Imagine what you can learn by listening to your members share their thoughts, ideas, goals, and problems. The post A Cheaper, Faster Way to Conduct Your Member Listening Tour appeared first on Smooth The Path.

Helping Members Answer the Questions that Matter Most

Smooth The Path

There’s an interesting dance that happens with member research. We ask the questions we think we want to know the answers to but members see those questions and find they would rather answer some other more important questions. Qualitative member research methods do.

Quantitative Points to the Starting Line, Qualitative Illuminates the Path

Smooth The Path

Improve new member retention. Grow member engagement. Attract more members. Extend member value. Because of my Crayola marketing training, I always turn to member research first. Understand members well, and the path to the goal will emerge.

Members Who Share Their Opinions Expect Action (here is what we are going to do!)

Smooth The Path

Our members won’t want to give 45-minutes to hour of their time for an interview is a common worry among many association executives. But I find that members actually do. The good news is these are exactly the members we most need to talk to. Members want to be heard.

Why We Might Be Interpreting Our Association’s Data All Wrong

Smooth The Path

Our assumptions about our members can be wrong. We see the data footprints members leave in their wake, the renewals, the ways they engaged, the content they read. The only way to overcome this bias is to find out what is driving our member’s actions, goals, fears, and challenges.

Data and the Member Story That Resonates

Smooth The Path

Why no member surveys may be better than one member survey. You analyzed member data and conducted surveys, here’s what is next. The post Data and the Member Story That Resonates appeared first on Smooth The Path. Related links: Data and association decision-making.

Results indicate that Membership Associations Who Performed Member Research in 2012 Had Higher Acquisition and Renewal Rates.

Experts in Membership Marketing

This year we learned that 65% of membership associations that introduced member research in 2012 saw an increase in new members. If your leadership needs it, these results provide a strong rationale to perform member research.

Our Point of View is Not Our Members’ Point of View

Smooth The Path

Our members may think membership is priced too high because of its impact on their budget or personal wallet. If members bought all the benefits a la carte, they would pay twice as much. Members see three precious days out of the office, away from their families.

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Data and Association Decision-Making

Smooth The Path

We feel better when we can say 75% of our members do this. When making a strategic decision on the basis of qualitative data (a member survey, our own data or third party data) ask these questions: Who responded and are these the members we most need insight from?

To Conduct Exit Surveys or Not to Conduct Exit Surveys

Smooth The Path

My guess is, we would learn: most members don’t renew because their job changed, some smaller number didn’t renew because they didn’t see the value, and some others didn’t renew because the price is too high. Related: Why no member surveys may be better than one survey.

Use the 5-Step Idea Process to Become an Association Innovation Ninja

Smooth The Path

Because ideas lead to innovation we want more ideas, better ideas, THE idea that will excite members. Many innovative associations use a formal or informal idea process which generally has five steps and goes something like this: Step #1: Allow member’s problems spark innovative ideas.

How to Leverage Your Association’s Super-Members

Smooth The Path

The trouble with association boards is they tend to be populated with super-members. Super-members are members who are so engaged, so seasoned, so advanced in the profession or industry they are not like most members. Don’t ask them to guess what new members need or want.

Sorting Through the Mixed Messages our Members Send Us

Smooth The Path

Your most engaged members and your board members may not represent the rest of your members. For example, long-time members love traditional receptions; new members typically hate them. Related: Differentiating between member feedback and member criticism.

Members Leave Associations Without a Sound

Smooth The Path

Related: Don’t ask for feedback from members who are too new. Asking members to opt in after a bad member experience. The post Members Leave Associations Without a Sound appeared first on Smooth The Path.

Case Study: In-depth Member Interviews Feed Association’s Strategic Plan

Smooth The Path

What else should the association do to support members during these extremely challenging times? With this in mind they decided to test out a qualitative research methodology as input to this strategic planning process. Listening to members.

How to Exponentially Improve Member Engagement at Any Association

Smooth The Path

Wouldn’t it be great if members felt this way every day of the week? At some associations, members do feel this way, and your members can feel like this too. Deeply understanding members is at the root of it all. Related: Member Engagement Research.

Beware of One Question Surveys for Associations

Smooth The Path

A few days after the call they call they sent an email asking: Based on your recent call experience, if a family member, friend or colleague asked you to recommend a credit card, how likely would you be to recommend us? Micro-surveys are super popular right now.

Study Holds Key to Association Member Engagement

Smooth The Path

For the last year, I have been saying that members who engage with the association within the first 3 days to 3 weeks of joining become more engaged through the life of their membership. I have been shouting this from the rooftops because members have told me this in interview after interview.

How Often are We Out of Sync with Members?

Smooth The Path

Likely members think the value of their membership is more than or less than we think they think it is. Likely members have better or worse experiences with the association than we guess they do. Likely members like the conference more or less than we assume they do. Often.

Our Members Are Not Crazy

Smooth The Path

Members don’t take the time to understand their benefits. Those chapter leaders are not communicating well with new members. There are so many situations that pit association staff against members. Dive into your member’s stories and find out how close you are.

Our Members are Self-Centered

Smooth The Path

Our members are self-centered. Our members have… no time. Only organizations that solve our member’s problems, speak their language, and understand them will get their time and attention. Can you stand in your member’s shoes and do this?

There are Important Things We May Not Know About the Association

Smooth The Path

There are some things about the association we may not know unless we ask members. our long-time members are disengaging. we use different words than our members use. we are solving a problem members have already solved.

Developing My Dream Association

Smooth The Path

If I were to build an association, I would pull the most significant insights from all of the research I have conducted. One of the core staff values would be to be intensely member-focused. We would talk with members often, conduct listening tours, and interview them.

Why Didn’t Our Members Choose Us?

Smooth The Path

It is so frustrating… Industry suppliers launch competitive products and events and our members purchase them. Members have a challenging problem and we have the solution but they do not use our solution. We reach only 14% of the population of potential members.

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IBMS: achieving a 25% response rate for their members’ survey

Optimist Consulting

Recently, I helped my client The Institute of Biomedical Science carry out a members’ survey. In addition to approving the survey, they were also great ambassadors for the project when they were out and about talking to members.

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Joint Surveys and the Importance of Knowing Your Industry

Association Adviser

More about the importance of knowing your association members and your industry in depth. Marketing & Communications Membership association research industry research marketing research member research member surveys.

Industry Study Brings a New Way for Association Professionals to Think About Member Engagement

Smooth The Path

There was one theme running so strongly through each member research project I could not ignore it. It was that members who engaged very early in their membership were more excited about the association than members who reported that “the association just grew on them.”

One Thing We can do to Prepare for Change

Smooth The Path

Related: Members need association help when they face change or start something new. Did you know that member surveys can be risky? Association Strategy Member Research change innovation member insights member problems risk strategy technology

Is it Day 1 or Day 2 for Associations?

Smooth The Path

True customer (member) obsession and high-velocity decision making are the most critical but also the most difficult for associations. Think about your members. Think about your best members. Not board members but regular members who are highly engaged.

Please Ask Members

Smooth The Path

As a member researcher I see some validity to this statement. Research, particularly qualitative research is very good at naming member problems but members themselves are often hard pressed to articulate the right solution. We have got to ask our members.

We Are Finding Out What Skills Association Leaders Need Today (And You Can Too!)

Smooth The Path

When these results are back we will create a final report combining insights from both studies; statistically valid quantitative results with select anonymous stories and context from the qualitative research to illustrate the key findings.

Mind the Member Gap

Smooth The Path

When I talk to relatively new members there is almost always a 3-5 year gap between when the member started in the profession or industry and when they actually became a member of the association. Members get value when we help them solve their problem.

Overcoming Association Change Fatigue

Smooth The Path

If you are walking into an association where one or a combination of any of these things have happened, you may see that everyone is fatigued; staff, board and maybe even members. One great way to build trust is learn about members and help everyone else to learn about members in a new way.

When Decisions Get Made

Eric Lanke

The most interesting result from the member research on renewal notices is that these letters, emails, and phone calls do not serve to change most member’s minds about renewing. One of the reasons this hit home for me is that I was recently the member in exactly this situation.